The New Londoners

Pierre d’Avoine with his wife Clare Melhuish and their sons Ivan and Reynard.

Pierre d’Avoine was born in India during the British Raj. His father was half French and half Indian, worked as an architect in Bombay, but died suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of 53. Pierre and his family then moved back to the UK, where his mother’s family resided. Her family is Irish but had roots in India too.

Pierre followed in his father’s footsteps and became an architect. It was during one of his exhibitions in Paris that he met his wife, Clare Melhewitt, who was then a journalist and was reviewing the show. Following the birth of their sons, however, she has moved into academic research in architecture and anthropology.

Clare has lived in London all her life. She was born in south London, brought up in Putney, went to school in Fulham and then moved to Camden in the 1980s.

Clare: Now I say I'm from London, which is almost a reaction to knowing and mixing with so many people in London who aren't from here. So, suddenly, being a Londoner carries more value. But as kids we were always saying, “Oh yeah we’re Welsh”. We would never think of identifying ourselves as Londoners.

Pierre: I feel very rooted in my Indian background and identify much more with my father's family because we had brothers and sisters who were there when I was a child in India and I used to go back quite a lot. I've stopped going back recently because I've become disenchanted with the way it's turning out, especially in Bombay.

Their children are less certain about their heritage.

Ivan: I used to like saying I was Indian because it seemed sort of different. But now if someone asks me I say... I don't know. They don't think I look Indian, they think I look more French. People think I'm French and I often say that I'm English. 

Also from India are the Huynh & Patel Family and the Jones & Noorgat Family.